If you are like many perimenopausal women, you may be suffering from insomnia, emotional highs and lows, hot flashes, brain fog, dry vagina and other challenging, quality of life-changing symptoms.
So why are so many women suffering? Most of them are afraid of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Today it is often referred to as hormone therapy (HT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). I speak with so many women who feel like an alien has taken over their body. They are struggling at work and in their marriages, but they will not even discuss taking HRT with their healthcare providers. They are convinced that they will get breast cancer or drop dead of a heart attack.
Why are they so afraid of HRT? Most of them heard the sound bites and information that was reported about the early termination of a WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) study in 2002 on hormone replacement therapy, which erroneously indicated that HRT caused heart attacks and breast cancer. This reporting led doctors to immediately stop prescribing HRT. Many women kicked their HRT to the curb. Duck — dangerous mood swings ahead……….!
Professor Robert D Langer, one of the principal investigators in the WHI, in a paper titled, “The evidence base for HRT: what can we believe?”, raises serious questions about the ‘facts’ that have led women and their doctors to believe hormone therapy is unsafe.
Professor Langer says that the distorted reporting of the WHI findings triggered a sensationalized cascade of fear and the flight from appropriate use of HRT. He reports that, in an unprecedented departure from accepted practice, the incendiary initial results paper was written by a small group of individuals and kept secret from the vast majority of scientists in whose names it was submitted until after it was accepted by the journal. The unfortunate result was that the paper misrepresented the findings, and made inflammatory claims that were not supported by the data when viewed according to the pre-established study protocol—which was largely abandoned in this and subsequent reports.
Professor Langer also points out the following:
The WHI was conducted to test if the benefits that had been seen in women starting HRT near menopause would be found in women starting this treatment a decade or so after going through menopause, and that the study purposely did not include enough recently menopausal women to assess outcomes in that age group.
The initial results were generalized from the older women to younger women, twisting the logic of the study in a scientifically inappropriate manner.
The second half of the trial was omitted from the published study and had data that was contrary to the original report. The omitted part of the study was reported two years later and showed that HRT reduced the risk of breast cancer and heart attacks in women under 60 years of age. (Were you aware of this report?!?! I bet not!) In recent years, hormone replacement therapy has improved with the help of subsequent clinical trials proving that HRT regimens could prevent heart disease and hip fractures.
The aftermath has been that women with significant menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, joint pain, anxiety and lowered mood (approximately 1 in 3 women), have been mostly untreated for 15 years. (This is a crime in my book!) Not only have women been denied symptom relief but they have also been denied the other benefits of HRT- including unarguable protection against bone loss and reduced risk of fracture! In recent years, hormone replacement therapy has improved with the help of subsequent clinical trials proving that HRT regimens could prevent heart disease and hip fractures.
Is your blood boiling yet?? No, you are not having a hot flash…..that boiling heat you feel going through your body is anger! HOLY SH-T!
In this new study, the International Menopause Society (IMS) recommendations on HRT suggest that we need serious questions raised about the need for professionalism in the quality of protocol, data evaluation, and author approvals when submitting scientific reports. The new study also shows a need for a better understanding of hormone replacement therapy and its risks and benefits. It is now apparent that HRT is an effective preventative treatment if prescribed to healthy women who have been postmenopausal within 10 years, and the benefits outweigh the risks. (Please take a moment to re-read the previous sentence.) For most women, HRT can help alleviate many menopausal symptoms as they make this important transition in their lives.
So listen up ladies, quit suffering in silence and find a good menopause specialist who is up on the latest information and science! If you don’t have one, here are some helpful tips. If a healthcare provider tells you that they flat out don’t believe in HRT. Run, don’t walk, out of that office as clearly this healthcare professional isn’t up on the current information that many researchers who truly care about women have been trying to impart for many years now. Your healthcare provider may be just covering his ass and not protecting yours!
Also, download my Menopause Symptoms Chart. Start charting your symptoms so that you can accurately and quickly explain to your specialist exactly how you are feeling.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the symptoms of menopause. For example, if you are a cancer survivor your options may be different than someone who has a history of heart disease in their family. Your menopause specialist should evaluate your symptoms, quality of life, and personal health info and create an individual program to fit your personal needs.
If you aren’t getting the help you need and deserve, find a new healthcare professional! No divorce attorney needed.
You CAN lead a happy, healthy, productive life in perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
Professor Langer’s paper will be published in the forthcoming April edition of the journal of the International Menopause Society, Climacteric.